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Christmas Message from Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., Minister with Responsibility for Defence

Today, the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., took the opportunity to thank all those serving in the Permanent Defence Force for the dedicated and professional service that they continue to provide.
Speaking today, the Minister wished all members of the Permanent Defence Force and their families a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year. Minister Kehoe said "I wish to express my appreciation and that of the Government for the valuable work carried out by members of the Permanent Defence Force at home and overseas during the past year."

Currently, over 600 members of the Permanent Defence Force are serving in 10 overseas missions making a positive and practical difference in some of the world’s trouble spots. Ireland's largest deployment remains as part of the United Nations International Interim Force in Lebanon, where following the transfer of command from Finland to Ireland in November, an additional 150 personnel were deployed bringing Ireland’s contribution to some 380 personnel. A contingent of 136 personnel is also deployed to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan Heights.

Minister Kehoe said "Since 1958, members of the Defence Forces overseas have turned Ireland’s commitment to peacekeeping into a reality, contributing to the high regard in which Ireland is held throughout the world.”

Minister Kehoe visited the Captain and crew of L.. James Joyce in Cagliari, Sardinia in September 2016 during her deployment to the humanitarian search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean. The Minister went on to say, "I am very proud of the work of the Naval Service on this mission since May 2015 in assisting with the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. Over 15,500 lives have been saved as a result.”

The Minister went on to say “Over the last six months I have visited our troops in Lebanon and Mali. While there, I witnessed at first hand, the work undertaken and the challenges faced by our Defence Forces on overseas missions. I have also witnessed the security, stability and wellbeing they have brought, not only by their operational tasking, but also through the humanitarian assistance they have provided to those in need."

The Minister added "I know many of you will be working whilst the rest of the country will be sitting down to Christmas dinner and enjoying family celebrations. On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I would like to thank you for the many sacrifices that you and your families have to make at Christmas time and throughout the year.
At this time of the year, it can be difficult for members of the Permanent Defence Forces who are spending Christmas overseas, separated from their families and loved ones. It is especially at this time also that the absence of a loved one from home is most greatly felt and I know that their families will miss them all dearly. I wish each and everyone of you a very happy, peaceful and safe Christmas and health and happiness for 2017.”

ENDS



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